Old School Productivity Tools Still Get the Job Done

Feb 15, 2024 | Grant Writing

Image of red sneakers sitting next to a cassette tape

When I first started working in the grant profession, there was no such thing as grant management software. The phrase “there’s an app for that” didn’t exist, and no one was talking about tools or hacks to keep up with grant deadlines. (I suddenly feel like my father and his tales of walking to school, uphill both ways, in the snow.)

While there are so many useful methods for grant tracking these days, not every nonprofit, municipality, or school system can afford a platform with annual fees, costly apps, or other electronic tools. So, what is a grant professional to do?

When high tech isn’t in the budget, low tech can get the job done. In fact, it can even do the job well.

For nearly 15 years I managed the grant process with a stream of old school methods, and these tools work just as well today as they did back then.

To track all your deadlines:

• A whiteboard keeps important details in front of your face. It’s a great place to list grant proposal deadlines. It’s also helpful to list every open grant program to remind you that grant management is a monthly, if not weekly chore.
• Your calendar is the perfect place to list all your deadlines, from grant proposals to narrative reports and more. It’s good practice to remind oneself of deadlines a few days, if not a week, before the actual due date.

To keep up with the money:

• Use your agency’s financial software. If you’re dealing with federal funds, you are required to have a separate account (as in separate number account within your software system) for every grant award. This way you can easily see what is being charged to the grant to make sure it is allowable.
• I found that even with financial software, you may need something else to track the specifics of your grant approved budget. Excel always got the job done. It helped to load in the specific line items in the grant budget, then keep track of each expenses so as to not exceed any line item funding.

To keep up with other things:

• I worked with finance to create a grant tracking form. It was an excel document that included things like our organization’s project director name and contact information; contact information for the grantor project manager; start and end date of the grant; financial account number to charge grant expenses; funder information (to include funder name, grant name, award number, etc.); what type of grant it was (federal, state, foundation, corporation, or other); how the grantor paid (reimbursement, advanced payment, other); and so much more. I would create each document and share it internally with the appropriate people in finance and the project director so we were all on the same page.
• I have used both 3-ring binders and online folders to keep track of all the grant documentation, from applications and award agreements to quarterly reports and reimbursement requests.

Old school methods can work, especially if you spend time regularly managing active grants. I recommend that at least once a month (if not more often) you are digging into the files and making sure things are up to date.

Do you have any similar methods for tracking it all? We’d love to hear from you: hello@haydayservices.com.

And if you want a longer discussion about these types of tools, revisit a previous Fundraising HayDay Podcast episode about this very topic HERE.

Amanda Day
Fundraising HayDay

A podcast about grants & such.

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